Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos vowed this week that cases related to extra-judicial killings and human rights breaches committed by the Colombian military would never be tried in military courts.
Human Rights Watch had sent a letter to Santos earlier this year declaring its concern at the way in which trials were being handled in Colombia.
In the current political climate in Colombia, with the peace talks taking place in Cuba between FARC and government representatives, the false positive cases being tried under transitional justice or in a military court could see comparatively short sentences handed out under plea deals.
According to Semana, Santos told a HRW representative on Monday: “”We will not support any legislation that allows that false positive or human rights violations are tried by military courts.”
The euphemistic term “false positives” was subbed by the government after media began on the thousands of executions that had taken place in the first ten years of this century to increase the number of reported combat kills.
HRW suggested that they were concerned about recent amendments to the justice system, transferring a number of criminal cases with military suspects from civilian to military courts, who are infamous for their failure to convict their own members.
Santos, who was defense minister when the killings were at its highest, stated that the stance of the government since the emergence of the scandal has not changed.
The civilians were killed in order to collect bonuses. This however has been categorically denied by the Colombian government. The practice also inflated the apparent success of the government in its fight against left-wing guerrillas and right wing paramilitaries.
MORE: False positives factsheet
In a case which has rocked Colombian society, the Prosecutor General’s Office has said it had discovered that the armed forces had killed roughly 4,000 civilians since 1986. By the year 2007, the practice had become so common that more than 40% of reported combat kills were in fact executed civilians.
- Santos: falsos positivos no serán juzgados por vía militar (Semana)
- Santos garantiza a Human Rights Watch que falsos positivos no serán juzgados por vía militar (NTN24)